Learning Skills

Retrieval Practice

Cognitive research has found that retrieval practice is a highly effective method of learning. Everytime you retrieve information from the brain in strengthens neural pathways.



Henry Roediger

Jeffrey Karpicke

Andrew Butler


Book - Make It Stick - The Science of Successful Learning



  • Retrieval practice or test enhanced learning, refers to the improvement in the long-term retention of information as a result of taking a test.
  • Retrieval practice provides a powerful learning tool that can be used to improve education.
  • The form of testing used should be closely aligned with educational objectives.
  • Retrieval practice can take many forms, ranging from free recall to written tests.
  • Production tests (e.g. short-answer and free recall) tend to promote better long-term retention than recognition tests (e.g. multiple choice tests, true-false, matching).
  • Use repeated retrieval practice spaced out over time whenever possible with intervals that are close enough to prevent forgetting but long enough to require some effort to recall.
  • Provide feedback after each test to facilitate learning and improve metacognition.

Adapted from Larsen, D. P., & Butler, A. C. (2013). Test-enhanced learning. In Walsh, K. (Ed.), Oxford Textbook of Medical Education (pp. 443-452). Oxford: Oxford University Press.



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